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Thread: The nature of protest.

  1. #1 The nature of protest. 
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    One of the criticisms of protest is that it disrupts the ordinary business of the day and order generally. "If only those people would do their thing where we didn't have to look at it or be around it, we wouldn't mind it so much." Is vagrancy a form of protest? Is panhandling? Is crime generally? Are charitable appeals from the pulpit? What about art, e.g. Picasso's Guernica? What are the limits of protest? Is it any sign or symptom of society's deficiencies?

    If not, why not?


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  3. #2  
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    Any government that claims to be democratic should have a vested interest in hearing what the people have to say. A company selling a product usually seeks feedback from its customers, because that's who they're trying to serve. Indeed most of those companies are willing to spend money to get that feedback. I don't see why a government that's trying to serve the people would be any different. ..... unless it's not really trying to serve the people.

    We should expect that every governmental body would reserve a portion of its budget for things related to accommodating protesters, like extra police, or lawn work resulting from additional wear and tear.... etc. Any reasonable costs. If the protest turns violent then of course it's not a legal protest anymore, so there's no need to accommodate any acts of wanton destruction.


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    It might help the discussion to reflect on distinctions between rallies, protests, actions, and demonstrations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Any government that claims to be democratic should have a vested interest in hearing what the people have to say.
    It's called "voting." Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
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    It's called "voting." Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
    Well, the suffragettes wouldn't have got very far then, would they?

    And in America (as well as lots of other places) people advocating for civil rights for black (name your colour, religion, ethnicity) citizens couldn't rely on votes from that group. Because among the civil rights being denied was either voting rights themselves or their exercise, or both. And for other purposes, some people don't have a relevant voting right. Land taxes paid by property owners are a good example. How do tenants have a say when, in many localities, voting rights are restricted to property ownership?

    And for peace marches or conscription and anti-war protests, remember that 16 and 17 year olds have a life or death interest in the draft in not very many months time. And they don't have votes.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    It's called "voting." Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
    Well, the suffragettes wouldn't have got very far then, would they?
    They got plenty far without government subsidies.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Any government that claims to be democratic should have a vested interest in hearing what the people have to say.
    It's called "voting."
    . If all anyone did was vote but never talk about it, people in office would never know what they were doing wrong until it was too late anyway. Worse, since there are usually only two candidates, and we vote most often on the basis of personality rather than agenda, it's quite possible that all potential candidates would do the same, wrong thing. Imagine a private corporation that never does any market research, just puts its products out there and waits to see if they sell or not.


    The thing is, democracy isn't an "if or not". It's a question of degree. Your system can be more or less democratic. The more feedback the government accepts on its policies the more accurately it is able to put their will in action, which is what democracy is about. It's about rule by the will of the people. Even China has elections.

    Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
    You don't think your side of the fence will ever want to hold one also? Is that what this is about? The perception that protests are only employed by one party, and that it is unfair for one party to benefit and the other not to?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    It's called "voting." Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
    Well, the suffragettes wouldn't have got very far then, would they?
    They got plenty far without government subsidies.
    I'm not talking about 'my' feminist movement of the 70s. I'm talking about when women were unable to vote at all.

    By comparison, in the 70s, we were arguing for more financial and personal rights. Like being able to keep our jobs when we got married or sign a lease or a loan contract without a husband or father to 'guarantee' it or get equal pay for doing the same job as a man. And of course, easier divorce from violent men - as well as refuges in the meantime.

    Lordy. Just thinking about it makes me cross. I just hated the too many years I was working in a strongly male environment. All of us were doing the same professional job, but I was paid less than they were and having to put up with criticism that I wasn't entitled to be there at all (because I was married) and just for fun, being expected to laugh at rape jokes and every other kind of crudeness (because I was a "liberated woman", their words not mine, so I shouldn't worry about 'just a joke'). And I'm not talking about these things being said behind my back. Heaven alone knows what went on there. I'm talking about morning tea time (we weren't allowed to leave our desks) having a couple or more blokes turning their chairs around and openly, in concert, getting stuck into me. I just count myself lucky that it didn't happen every single day or in every single work group. Others weren't so fortunate. But it wasn't a lot of fun.

    It was a bit better when the pay issue was sorted out, but the rest of it didn't disappear. It took another 15 years before we finally had an organised way of dealing with sexual harassment and all its ugly friends.

    I don't care how much governments had to pay to clear up lawns or whatever after those street marches. It was worth every penny. Not just for me, after all I was in a well-paid occupation, but for all those women who suffered much more than I did. And that includes the women of my grandmother's generation. Reading the writings of that time, some of them had vaguely utopian fantasies that, once the voting and representation rights were won, women's personal and financial rights would automatically follow. If only.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    It might help the discussion to reflect on distinctions between rallies, protests, actions, and demonstrations.
    Aye, and figuring out which qualifies as peaceful assembly.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    It's called "voting." Don't ask me to subsidize your protests.
    Well, the suffragettes wouldn't have got very far then, would they?
    They got plenty far without government subsidies.
    I'm not talking about 'my' feminist movement of the 70s. I'm talking about when women were unable to vote at all.
    I'm scratching my head here, Adelady. Are you saying the suffragettes protested using government subsidies, or what?
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  12. #11  
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    scratching my head here
    Me too, on re reading.

    Obviously I conflated 2 or 3 comments somehow or other - probably worsened by getting hot under the collar about the "costs" to the community at large from late 20thC feminist demonstrations being dismissed as 'subsidies'.

    Which now raises another question in my mind about the value of "It's called voting" in several other circumstances. Not so many years ago in Australia, and to a certain extent in several parliamentary democracies even now, the 'you can vote' response becomes worthless in strongly gerrymandered electorate arrangements despite property qualifications and other barriers being removed. Here it was always overweighting rural areas, strongly in the states and to a limited extent in federal electorates. In other places, there are still blatant and deliberate misallocations and distortions of electoral power.

    Regardless of how and why it happens, telling people they can 'vote' to deal with perceived wrongs won't work if they know very well that their votes will be drowned under an unfair tide of overweighted votes against their area, their circumstances or their interests.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  13. #12  
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    Of course, the right to petition the government is fundamental. I'm not arguing that. It's this idea of the government paying people to protest against the government that I can't wrap my head around. Have we become so dependent on government, that we can't even do our own complaining without government help?
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Of course, the right to petition the government is fundamental. I'm not arguing that. It's this idea of the government paying people to protest against the government that I can't wrap my head around. Have we become so dependent on government, that we can't even do our own complaining without government help?
    Nobody's suggesting the government pay anyone to protest. I'm only suggesting that they should include wear and tear to the public lawns, and the extra police protection in their budget and think of those things as just being part of the "cost of doing business" for a representative government. I never said anything even remotely similar to the idea that money should be paid to the protesters. Maybe you misinterpreted my analogy to a corporation conducting market research?
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  15. #14  
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    It might help the discussion to reflect on distinctions between rallies, protests, actions, and demonstrations.
    Aye, and figuring out which qualifies as peaceful assembly.
    In US law and by traditional, conservative values, it's assumed to be peaceful assembly until proven otherwise. And of course by established conservative principle in the US there is no collective guilt, if individuals are unpeaceful.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    It might help the discussion to reflect on distinctions between rallies, protests, actions, and demonstrations.
    Aye, and figuring out which qualifies as peaceful assembly.
    Rallies are basically peaceful. The large numbers they're designed to gather will include and embolden fringes though.

    Protests are pointed and angry, but they are expressions not violence. So a protest could be hateful and hurtful to someone (lurid placards the norm), but their targets are typically insensitive.

    Actions are consequential, so they cross the line. Actions employing spraypaint or late night phone calls are non-peaceful. The threatened union of a supermarket could take the action of not smiling at customers, and this is arguably non peaceful (damaging) though, bizarrely, to the employer not the customer.

    Demonstrations are basically peaceful. WW2 vets bugling at the November 11th cenotaph are rated peaceful (and subsidized by your tax dollars to demonstrate, Harold), while neonazis marching in regalia are technically peaceful and banned anyway.
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  17. #16  
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    Actions are consequential, so they cross the line. Actions employing spraypaint or late night phone calls are non-peaceful. The threatened union of a supermarket could take the action of not smiling at customers, and this is arguably non peaceful (damaging) though, bizarrely, to the employer not the customer.
    When it comes to public servants and public services, there are lots and lots of actions that citizens find positively attractive. When parking inspectors and other local authorities refuse to impose fines or enforce certain rules. Public transport employees sometimes allow passengers to travel free or to not pay tolls as a form of industrial action. Delaying or deferring issue of tax or penalty notices of various kinds can seriously upset the employer while the non-recipients of such notices accrue interest on funds remaining in their bank accounts.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    One of the most effective doings is the work rule strike - where the employees take pains to follow to the letter each and every employer rule and directive, thereby under normal circumstances bringing operations to a near standstill.

    I don't think it's of much use to classify that kind of thing as an "action" vs a "protest" versus a "demonstration". By the dictionary, it would be a demonstration.
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  19. #18  
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    It is though useful to define what's peaceable. I tend to agree that a city paying for some extra porta johns, lawn damage, and an extra shift is probably the "cost of doing business." It crosses the line when they start tipping the Johns and cop cars over; or breaking into city hall like some protesters did in Oakland.
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    It crosses the line when they start tipping the Johns and cop cars over; or breaking into city hall like some protesters did in Oakland.
    It also crosses a line to ascribe guilt to a large group of protesters, demonstrators, assemblers, or whatever, from the actions of some individual people who may or may not be associated with them.

    Who is "they"? In my town, during the Republican national convention in 2008, Federal and local law enforcement agencies provided several agents provacateur to go with the local vandals taking advantage of opportunity to break things. The consequences were ascribed to the thousands of people protesting the rhetoric and policies of the Republican Party, people who meanwhile had been marched between rows of police in full riot gear and confined to fenced in areas far from the convention center itself, with the justification that the authorities expected some violence. The mass arrests and confinement of demonstrators in a couple of vulnerable areas - as they walked across a bridge, say - was likewise justified - almost everyone released without charge after some bad treatment and slander at the hands of the police, but only after the convention had left town.

    They had solid reason to expect some violence, as it turned out - they had provided some instigators. To this day no one knows how much of the relatively little violence that did occur (aside from the police tactics, which provided more than a little) was instigated by agents of the Republican Party and the various governments themselves.
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    Sometimes you have to arrest or take other actions against the crowd to disrupt the mass psychosis that gets into masses of people. Of course you can only prosecute those directly responsible for the damages or incitations to violence and release the rest.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Sometimes you have to arrest or take other actions against the crowd to disrupt the mass psychosis that gets into masses of people.
    That works even better if you do it in advance, before the mass psychosis gets going.

    That way you can use the hypothetical threat of the psychosis, complete with its hypothetical sources in the liberal media and dysfunctional irreligious homes, in your political speeches and campaign rhetoric inside the convention hall, without the risk of actual trouble outside it.

    Techniques for really effective crowd control are among the great inventions of the 20th century.
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  23. #22  
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    Yeah. When you know you plan to commit the violence yourself, it's easy to be absolutely sure it was "going to happen." Protests can't exclude anyone from participating, and naturally an off duty cop isn't overly afraid they'll get arrested for marching in the group and spraying mace around to get everyone agitated.

    It's too bad we don't pass anti-agent-provocateur laws. I guess it's kind of an "elephant in the room" type situation, because probably nobody wants to admit this crime really occurs.
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